DNR forms new deer management plan as hunting continues downward trend

Ahead of the 2018 hunting opener, the Department of Natural Resources has released a first-of-its-kind deer management plan.

The comprehensive plan is a response to complaints from hunters who criticized the DNR for mismanaging the whitetail population.

"Through management decisions, they were reducing the herd to lower numbers and with a combination of bad winters the deer harvest in 2014 was as slow as it's been in many decades," said Craig Engwall with the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. "There was frustration."

The legislative auditor stepped in, concluding that a comprehensive plan was necessary.

The DNR is taking online public comments on the new plan now through Wednesday, May 9, and will hold 35 public meetings in April so people can talk to wildlife managers, ask questions and provide input.

"This isn’t just about deer hunting; this is a deer management plan and we’re looking for input from our deer hunters, people who may be interested in hunting, or those who may never hunt and are curious how we manage deer and want to have a voice as well," said Leslie McInenly, DNR acting wildlife populations and programs manager.

In the proposed plan, there were four recommendations that were supported by a majority of the stakeholders: a recreational deer-feeding ban, to manage deer at levels consistent with the moose management plan, to remove constraints on population goals and to minimize chronic wasting disease.

The plan establishes an annual statewide harvest target of 200,000 deer. 

There’s a been a nationwide decline in hunting, but Minnesota has been mostly immune from the trend.

“Minnesota has been in better shape than other states, but we do have a recruitment and retention program to try and bring in new people. A lot of energy right now is adult onset hunters," McInenly said.

To find more information or check for a meeting scheduled in your town, click here: http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/2018/04/09/new-plan-fosters-better-understanding-of-deer-management-more-citizen-input/